Saturday 01 September 2018 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 01 September 2018 at 18:48)
Royal Wootton Bassett Town got back to winning ways with a hard-earned victory against Windsor by the odd goal in three.
Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, 1st September
It took a herculean defensive effort in the second half and, at times, it certainly was not pretty. But Royal Wootton Bassett Town dug deep to preserve a 2-1 victory over Windsor, helping avenge a 4-3 loss in Berkshire just a fortnight ago.
As with the opening encounter, Sam Collier's side found themselves 2-0 in front at the break, a lead that was richly deserved courtesy of a professional performance during the opening 45 minutes.
The visitors quickly grabbed a goal following the restart though and had Bassett pinned deep for the majority of the period. Yet they were unable to find their way past debutant 'keeper Charlie McCready again as the Bassett backline did what they had to make sure that another two-goal advantage did not go to waste.
Bassett led from the game's tenth minute, their early positive play being duly rewarded. Coming off his line to try and punch away a Tony Joyce free kick, visiting 'keeper Hugo Sobte instead flattened TJ Bohane. The shotstopper almost made immediate amends, diving low to his left to keep out Bohane's spot kick. But the loose ball was seized upon by Steve Yeardley, and he teed up Josh Shama to recycle a cross into the danger area which Bohane coolly headed home.
That early goal certainly gave Bassett a boost, and within four minutes Brad Pagliaroli burst beyond right back Daniel Taylor. Doing well to keep the ball in play, he cut back to Bohane from the byline, but the pass was slightly behind the Bassett forward, who could only slice wide.
Bohane was continuing to cause problems, and his knock down on the edge of the area set up Shama to cross to an unmarked Gio Wrona, who glanced his header wide from fifteen yards.
Windsor, playing tidy football, finally managed to eke out a chance on the half hour mark. It came from a free kick, awarded for a harsh handball against Shama in a dangerous position, but Matt Woods was unable to locate the target and blasted over.
Bassett then punished Windsor, crafting a superb second goal from captain Wrona. Pagliaroli was picked out by a diagonal ball out from the back and set out on a bustling run that saw him twist his way past two defenders. When reaching the area, he squared for Wrona, who shuffled the ball onto his right foot before curling a beautiful arcing effort into the top right corner.
Letting a three-goal lead slip against Windsor was still fresh in the memory for the hosts and so they knew such an advantage was not a comfortable one.
And they were reminded twice before the break of the threat the Royalists posed. Firstly, the dangerous Dan Roberts headed over from close range at the far post after drifting free of his marker to meet Woods' cross. Then, after Roberts had seen an effort block, the loose ball squirmed free to Jeevan Panesar, who unleashed a stunning, swerving drive from beyond thirty yards that clattered the left post and bounced out for a corner off the back of McCready.
Harsh words must have been said in the visitors dressing room at half time as they were fast out of the blocks after the resumption.
Within two minutes an open Malachi Thomas rushed a shot straight at McCready after Usman Lalustani's cross had evaded Carl Evans. Moments later, Roberts' powerful drive from the edge of the area was repelled by McCready before Yeardley blocked the follow up.
Bassett's resistance eventually slipped though with 51 minutes on the clock. Failing to clear after McCready denied Woods, Thomas was on hand to punish Bassett, drilling into the bottom right corner from twelve yards.
They almost grabbed an equaliser before the hour too. After breaking from a Bassett free kick, Roberts found himself with room to shoot just outside the box and he produced a dipping strike that rattled the crossbar. The rebound fell to Matt Stockill following a rushed clearance, and his rasping strike was initially spilled by McCready before the 'keeper eventually smothered.
Windsor continued to have Bassett pinned deep for the vast majority of the thirty minutes that remained. But despite their domination in terms of both territory and possession they failed to trouble McCready again.
It was nail-biting stuff at times, with Bassett frequently affording dangermen Panesar and Roberts too much time and space. However, the hosts dug as deep as they could, throwing bodies in the way of the ball and clearing their lines to wind down the clock and allow themselves vital time to recover.
They did have a couple of opportunities to kill the game off too, but lacked a clinical edge on the counter.
With quarter of an hour to go, Pagliaroli raced onto a Bohane flick, but, cutting inside onto his less-favoured right foot, failed to find the target. Another break then saw Pagliaroli attempt to cut back for either Bohane or Sam Packer, but his pass was just out of their reach.
Ultimately though a third goal was not required, while Windsor would be denied their comeback.
Man of the match: Tony Joyce – dealt well with the threat posed by Malachi Thomas and left back Josh Masters, who was playing in a very advanced position. The veteran full back was calm and sensible in possession, positioned himself well and played his part in Bassett's first goal with his dangerous delivery into the box that helped earn the penalty.